Campus News

Bowdoin to Fund Major Advances in Information Technology

Story posted January 11, 2000

Bowdoin College has received a gift of $23 million that will be used to establish endowments for advances in information and educational technology. The gift, from a foundation of New York investor and Bowdoin alumnus Stanley F. Druckenmiller, comes at a time when similar large gifts are used at other colleges to fund construction projects or scholarships. According to College officials, the decision to create technology endowments with these funds underscores a commitment by Bowdoin to make information technology an integral part of liberal education.

"Technology is now an indispensable tool of education," said Bowdoin President Robert H. Edwards. "Bowdoin professors and students use technology to model complex human and biological systems; to gain direct access to distant collections of art and data; and to communicate with colleagues and friends across the globe. Our web site is increasingly the first contact with the College and Maine for prospective students and faculty. The cost of hardware, connections, switches, and software necessary to provide reliable, easy access to technology for everyone in the College are staggering, as are the costs of the people who help make the technology useful for teaching and learning. Stan Druckenmiller’s extraordinary gift of endowment literally vaults Bowdoin into the twenty-first century by laying a new financial base under this transforming educational technology."

Information and educational technology expenditures are among the fastest growing items in college and university budgets nationwide and have led to growing concerns about how institutions can keep pace without diverting limited resources from such vital programs as financial aid, facility maintenance and improvement, and competitive salaries for faculty. At Bowdoin, information and technology expenditures have grown 146 percent in six years. In the coming year they are expected to reach five percent of the annual educational and general budget of the College.

The rapidly rising costs associated with information and educational technology have led to growing concerns about how colleges and universities can keep pace without diverting limited resources from such vital programs as financial aid, facility maintenance and improvement, student services, and competitive salaries for faculty. At Bowdoin, information and technology expenditures have grown 146 percent in six years. In the coming year, they are expected to reach five percent of the annual operating budget of the College.

Approximately $15 million of the $23 million gift will be invested to endow annual information technology expenditures at the College. Managed by Bowdoin’s Computing and Information Services (CIS), these include network upgrades and maintenance, desktop computers, videoconferencing, software, web site maintenance, and salaries for CIS staff, among other costs. Initially, this $15 million endowment is expected to provide an additional $750,000 a year for information technology at Bowdoin. In future years, the amount provided will grow as the endowment increases in value.

Roughly $6 million of the Druckenmiller gift will be used to establish an endowment for an educational technology working group. In 1996 Bowdoin established the Educational Technology Task Force (ETTF), a collaborative venture that enables staff trained in new educational and information technologies to work with faculty wishing to explore the use of these new technologies in teaching and research. ETTF staff also assist the Bowdoin community in monitoring changes suggested or brought about by new technologies, including changes to copyright laws, new techniques introduced by distance learning initiatives, and efforts to assess the impact of technology on student learning.

An example of how Bowdoin College professors are using technology in the classroom is available on the Apple Computer web site at: http://www.apple.com/education/hed/aua0101s/bio/

A sample of ongoing educational technology projects at Bowdoin is available on the Bowdoin College web site at: http://academic.bowdoin.edu/ettf/projects/html/index.html

Of the remaining funds, $1 million will go toward building the technological infrastructure of the Bowdoin College Library, while another $1 million will fund current information technology infrastructure needs at the College, including a major investment in staff and other resources to further develop and maintain Bowdoin’s web site (http://www.bowdoin.edu).

Druckenmiller, a member of the Bowdoin Class of 1975, is managing director at Soros Fund Management in New York where he manages several funds totaling over $20 billion which deal primarily in equities, currencies, and bonds worldwide. Druckenmiller is also chairman and owner of Duquesne Capital Management, a Pittsburgh-based firm he founded in 1981.

A native of Philadelphia, Druckenmiller was a dean's list student while at Bowdoin. He graduated magna cum laude with a double major in economics and English, and was co-recipient of the 1975 Noyes Political Economy Prize. Intending to pursue an academic career-!he enrolled in a three-year Ph.D. program in economics at the University of Michigan, but discontinued his studies to become an analyst at Pittsburgh National Bank, a position he held until he founded Duquesne Capital Management in 1981. Druckenmiller was elected to Bowdoin's Board of Overseers in 1991 and to the Board of Trustees in 1996. He is chair of the Trustee's Investment Committee and serves on the Executive Committee, the Admissions and Financial Aid Committee, and the Subcommittee on Minority Affairs.

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